Haydn: String Quartets, Vol. 2

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With such an immense output of string quartets, it is only natural that some contributions might gain more attention and esteem than others. This is even true with the quartets of Haydn, often referred to as the father of the modern string quartet. It is a mission of the Schuppanzigh Quartet to shed a new light on some of "Papa" Haydn's more neglected quartets by showcasing them alongside the more frequently performed and recorded. In Vol. 2 of a three-part endeavor on the Accent label, the part of the well-known quartet is played by the D major Quartet, Op. 64/5, while the less-familiar quartets include Op. 77/1 and Op. 9/4. Overall, Schuppanzigh's playing is solid and tight, with refined technical accuracy. What's seemingly missing is much in the way of fervor or excitement in the playing. Even the perennially welcome Finale of 64/5 is markedly slower than expected deficient in enthusiasm. If the well-known quartet can't wow listeners, how can the others be expected to make anyone sit on the edge of their seat and hope for more? The answer: they don't. Schuppanzigh's recorded sound will also be found less than ideal by many listeners; the first violin is extremely bright, almost shrill; the inner voices are muffled and difficult to pick out; and the overall blend has a bit too much reverb.

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